Friday, April 29, 2016

Daily Headlines: April 29, 2016

* Colombia: Colombia became the fourth Latin American state to legalize same-sex marriage following a series of recent rulings by the country’s Constitutional Court.

* Peru: Polls have placed Keiko Fujimori back as the favorite in June’s presidential race even though she faces stiff competition from rival Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, controversy over the authorities rule of her ex-president father and a new spat with her congressman brother.

* Mexico: A Mexican general received the stiffest punishment against a senior military official after a court sentenced him to 52.5 years in prison for torture.

* Cuba: The Cuban government ruled out eliminating a ban on defectors from playing with the national baseball team despite improving ties between the island and the U.S.

YouTube Source – teleSUR English

Online Sources – Deutsche Welle, The Latin Americanist, Reuters, ABC News

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Daily Headlines: April 28, 2016

* Venezuela: A study released this week found that Venezuela, which is undergoing an energy crisis, is the country most vulnerable to the low price of crude oil.

* Cuba: The recent increase in the number of Cuban migrants entering the U.S. could lead to a reform of the Cuban Adjustment Act even though White House officials have denied the possibility of enacting changes.

* Mexico:We want to stay alive” was the theme of a protests held days ago in the State of Mexico to repudiate femicides and violence against women.

* Latin America: The economy for Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to contract for a second straight year in 2016, according to the International Monetary Fund.

YouTube Source – PBS NewsHour (Video uploaded in March 2016).

Online Sources – GlobalPost, CNBC, Politico, The Guardian, Vox

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Daily Headlines: April 27, 2016

* Mexico: A few thousand people including some family members of 43 missing Ayotzinapa university students marched in Mexico City yesterday to question the government’s shaky investigation into the case.

* Peru: Peruvian officials will expand a law allowing the military to shoot down civilian planes suspected of drug smuggling to include boats and backpackers.

* Argentina: State-run YPF will export crude oil next month for the first time since 2013 as part of a plan to boost production amid low oil prices.

* U.S.: A new study concluded that the number of Latino children was undercounted in the last Census and this has caused a lack of federal funds to be destined to some communities in need.

YouTube Source – El Universal

Online Sources – Reuters, NBC News, Bloomberg, Voice of America

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Daily Headlines: April 26, 2016

* Costa Rica: Some 600 migrants from Africa will be deported back to their respective countries of origin even though Costa Rican immigration officials admitted that such an action would be expensive.

* Colombia: A new report from a Colombian NGO found that paramilitaries continues to exist and are behind criminal actions including “drug-trafficking, smuggling, (and) illegal mining.”

* El Salvador: The Salvadoran Legislative Assembly approved a series of measures to combat gang violence such as labeling the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 as "terrorist groups.”

* Venezuela: The Venezuelan Supreme Court halted opposition-led efforts to cut President Nicolás Maduro’s term short by two years.

YouTube Source – africanews (“Costa Rican authorities (earlier this month) deported some 250 African migrants of different nationalities to Panama”.)

Online Sources – BBC News, InSightCrime, The Tico Times, Colombia Reports

Monday, April 25, 2016

Daily Headlines: April 25, 2016

* Puerto Rico: A bipartisan bill to help restructure Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt continues to be stuck in the U.S. Congress even though a lack of legislative action prior to a May 1st payment deadline would compound the commonwealth’s already dire economic crisis.

* Argentina: On a related note, the Argentine government last Friday paid $9.3 billion to bondholders who were owed over the country’s $100 billion debt default in 2002.

* U.S.: Puerto Rican pugilist McWilliams Arroyo was able to last the distance with Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez but the Nicaraguan boxer easily retained his flyweight title and a perfect 44-0 record.

* Honduras: The daughter of murdered environmentalist Berta Cáceres called on European financial interests to halt funding several Honduran hydroelectric projects.

YouTube Source – Last Week Tonight

Online Sources – Bloomberg, Financial Express, ESPN, The Guardian

Friday, April 22, 2016

Daily Headlines: April 22, 2016

* South America: Nine teams from Brazil and Argentina advanced to the round of 16 of the Copa Libertadores bracket led by top seeds Atletico Nacional from Colombia and Mexico’s UNAM.

* Latin America: Soybean prices have dipped as a result of floods damaging the crop in Argentina, while Chile’s El Teniente copper mine restarted operations following days of heavy rainfall.

* Guatemala: The shooting death of a thirteen-year-old Guatemalan boy has led to increased tensions between the Central American country and neighboring Belize.
* Mexico: President Enrique Peña Nieto presented to Mexico’s Congress a plan to decriminalize the use of marijuana for personal use up to 28 grams and legalize medical marijuana.

YouTube Source – Football Mania (Defending Copa Libertadores titleholders River Plate of Argentina join eight former championship teams to the last sixteen of this year’s edition of the tournament).

Online Sources –, Bloomberg, Reuters, Vice News, GlobalPost

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Daily Headlines: April 21, 2016 (Updated)

* Latin America: The presidents of Mexico and Colombia each called out for reforming global antidrug efforts at the U.N. Drug Policy Summit though they face opposition from other leaders more satisfied with the status quo.

Update: Bolivian President Evo Morales also criticized the contemporary "war on drugs" efforts and urged states to take an approach that "respects human rights and national sovereignty."
respects human rights and national sovereignty

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respects human rights and national sovereignty

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* El Salvador: Salvadoran authorities unveiled a new special unit containing “600 army commandos and 400 specially trained elite police officers” aimed at combating rampant gang violence.

* Puerto Rico: Time is not on Puerto Rico’s side as the U.S. Congress continues to delay discussion on a plan to help restructure a $70 billion debt.

* Mexico: At least thirteen people died and 130 are injured following an explosion at a Pemex facility located in the Mexican state of Veracruz.

YouTube Source – The National

Online Sources including Update – Reuters, The Guardian, NBC News, Voice of America, Fox News Latino, teleSUR English

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Daily Headlines: April 20, 2016

* Ecuador: At least 400 aftershocks have hit Ecuador since a deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake Saturday night including a 6.1-magnitude tremor in the predawn hours today.

* Peru: Polls have shown Keiko Fujimori, who easily won the first round of Peru’s presidential election, has a slight advantage over Pedro Pablo Kuczynski ahead of the June 5th runoff.

* Chile: Patricio Aylwin, the former Chilean president who was key in the transition following the infamous military regime led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, died at the age of 97.

* Venezuela: Venezuelan Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino blamed the U.S. for failed oil talks in Doha last weekend and warned that negotiations must resume soon in order to avoid a collapse in crude prices.

YouTube Source – France 24 English

Online Sources – Bloomberg, Reuters, NBC News, The Latin Americanist, euronews

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Daily Headlines: April 19, 2016

* U.S.: The 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama was awarded to Lin-Manuel Miranda in recognition of the popular, critically-acclaimed Broadway musical “Hamilton.”

* Latin America: A new report detailed how the Hacking Team cyber security firm allegedly sold spyware and other tools used by authorities in several Latin American states for surveillance against critics and political opponents.

* Colombia: The Colombian government plans to resume using glyphosate to eradicate coca plants even though the World Health Organization classified it last year as a carcinogen.

* Cuba: Carnival reversed its decision to bar Cuban-Americans from traveling on its upcoming cruises to Cuba though it remains to be seen if they will be accepted back on to the island by immigration officials.

YouTube Source – PBS NewsHour

Online Sources – Buzzfeed News, ABC News, The Atlantic, Boing Boing

Monday, April 18, 2016

Daily Headlines: April 18, 2016

* Latin America: Ecuadoran officials claimed the death toll from a 7.8-magniude earthquake on Saturday night that was the country’s worst tremor since 1979 rose to 350 fatalities.

* Brazil: Financial markets in Brazil opened today with gains after the House of Deputies easily approved sending the impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff to the Senate.

* Chile: Some 4 million people Santiago is without drinking water and parts of in central Chile are flooded following periods of “unusually” heavy rainfall.

* Venezuela: Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro announced that clocks would be turned ahead by 30 minutes to help ease the country's energy crisis.

YouTube Source – euronews

Online Sources – CNBC, Reuters, NBC News, Bloomberg

Friday, April 15, 2016

Daily Headlines: April 15, 2016

* Panama: Panamanian authorities reportedly agreed to follow international tax reporting standards outlined by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development chief Angel Gurria even though they had blasted him for comments made following the Panama Papers leak.

* Brazil: The lower chamber of the Brazilian Congress began three days of debating today over whether President Dilma Rousseff should be impeached over money laundering allegations.

* U.S.: The crisis hitting newspapers in the U.S. might lead to the end of El Diario/La Prensa, the longest-running Spanish-language daily and in circulation for 102 years.

* Puerto Rico: The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the surviving Puerto Rican soldiers of a U.S. Army regiment known as the “Borinqueneers” who fought both World Wars and the Korean War.

YouTube Source – BBC News (Video uploaded on April 3, 2016).

Online Sources – Deutsche Welle, the Latin Americanist, USA TODAY, Fox News Latino, CNN

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Colombian High Court Continues Push to Expand Gay Rights

Thus far Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay were the only three Latin American states to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Colombia could soon be added to that list depending on the actions of the country’s Constitutional Court (CC).

According to reports from the Colombian press, CC judge Alberto Rojas Ríos is planning to introduce for debate a project that would recognize same sex marriages. The measure would also reaffirm an April 7th high court decision stating that marriage doesn’t apply exclusively to unions between men and women, and established a path that would allow Congress to legalize same sex marriage.

Rojas’ project argues that the decision last week is constitutional and based on a 2011 CC edict recognizing homosexual couples as a family and ordered the legislature to create rules to ensure the non-discrimination of civil unions for gay and heterosexual couples. Congress failed to do so, however, which led to confusion starting in 2013 among public notaries designating civil unions as marriages or refusing to do so.

One of the main points for debate in the plan by Rojas is interpreting marriage, be it by couples of the same or different sex, as “fundamental right” based on the constitution allowing for the right to create a family. Doing so would not only grant greater leeway for Congress to reform marriage laws but also recognize marriage as beyond the religious framework exclusively as a method to facilitate procreation.

Additionally, the project would contend that the CC must guarantee the basic rights of gay Colombians taking into account twenty-one legislative bills on the subject of same-sex marriage. The document would also support gay marriage based on the continued jurisprudence by the high court in favor of protecting the rights of minority groups.

Daily Headlines: April 14, 2016 (Updated)

* Cuba: Cruse ship giant Carnival has come under fire in the Cuban-American community after it emerged that the firm complied with a law in Cuba barring those who were born on the island to return there by sea.

Update: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry entered the fray and criticized the "discriminatory policy" by the Cuban government.
* Argentina: A tribunal gave the green light for Argentina to move ahead with its first international bond sale in more than a decade as the country hopes to end to a legal battle over repaying debt from its $100 million default in 2001.

* Puerto Rico: Delays have hit a proposal in the U.S. Congress that could alleviate the Puerto Rican debt crisis and prevent an economic catastrophe on the commonwealth but that some legislators criticize as a bailout.

* Mexico: Is President Enrique Peña Nieto “putting his head in the sand”, as one critic claimed, by skipping a special U.N. General Assembly session on drug policy next week?

YouTube Source – Miami Herald (“A small group of protesters including Ramón Saúl Sánchez, president of the Democracy Movement, demonstrate outside the Carnival Corp. in protest of the ban by the Cuban government of Cubans and Cuban-Americans traveling to Cuba by sea.”)

Online Sources including Update – USA TODAY, ABC News, Reuters, Vice News, Fox News Latino

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Brazil’s Rousseff Assails “Treacherous” Vice President

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” says an old adage. In the case of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, however, former allies have turned into adversaries that are a little to close to her as she faces an impeachment process that could see her deposed from the country’s top political office.

“We are living in strange and worrying times, times of a coup and pretending and treachery…(On Monday) they used the pretense of a leak to give the order for the conspiracy,” declared Rousseff in reference to legislative leader Eduardo Cunha but also Vice President Michel Temer. She accused both men of organizing a coup to “destabilize a legitimately elected president.”

Rousseff did not directly name Temer, but her comments came following a recording purportedly leaked accidently where the person who would succeed her should she get ousted. On the tape he gives what would be his welcoming speech to Brazilians if he were to become president. Though he claimed that the message was only to be heard by advisors and doesn’t wish to “generate false expectations,” Rousseff was certainly not to pleased with the development.

“Like many Brazilians, it came to my knowledge and I confess I was shocked with the shamelessness of the farce of the ‘leak’…trying to disguise the announcement of a premature inauguration, underestimating the intelligence of Brazilians,” an irate Rousseff mentioned.

Both Temer and Cunha belong to the PMDB political party that recently dropped out of the ruling coalition led by Rousseff. They have also been implicated in the corruption scandals that have shaken Brazil’s political elite and could sink the Rousseff regime. (In fact, a Supreme Court judge on April 5th ordered impeachment proceedings to start against Temer).

Daily Headlines: April 13, 2016

* Nicaragua: Nicaragua legislators rejected a “citizens bill” based on a petition with some 28,000 signatories seeking to stop a planned interoceanic canal

* Cuba: The Cuban government loosened restrictions on some cooperatives as part of a “cautiously implemented market reform program” but stopped short of granting more flexibility to private restaurants.

* Latin America: The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean believes Latin America’s economy will shrink by 0.6% this year in a report published days after the Inter-American Development Bank revised their outlook to a 0.3% contraction.

* Mexico: Mexico is allegedly preparing a plan to bid for the 2026 soccer World Cup, which could affect the chances of the U.S. hosting the event and might impact the joint invite for the 2030 tournament by Argentina and Uruguay.

YouTube Source – AFP

Online Sources – The Guardian, Reuters, Nearshore Americas, Fox Sports

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Daily Headlines: April 12, 2016

* Venezuela: The Venezuelan Supreme Court overturned a law approved weeks ago by the opposition-controlled legislature that would’ve granted amnesty to political prisoners including anti-government activists.

* Peru: Keiko Fujimori may have won in the first round of Peru’s presidential election but will surely face a very stiff challenge from runoff rival Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and voters wary over the controversial legacy of imprisoned ex-leader Alberto Fujimori.

* Honduras: “We demand the investigation and trial of those responsible for the deaths of those journalists,” said a protester at a demonstration in Tegucigalpa to call attention to the twenty-two members of the press killed since 2014.

* Brazil: The impeachment process against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff continues after a Congressional committee recommended the process head to a vote by the lower chamber.

YouTube Source – France 24 English (Last month “Venezuela's opposition-led legislature approved an amnesty bill for political prisoners, setting up an epic political clash with embattled President Nicolas Maduro, who opposes the move.)

Online Sources – NBC News, Fusion, The Latin Americanist, Fox News Latino, BBC News